THISDAY Summit on Universal Health Coverage, Timely, Says Tejuoso

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• Moeti: Nigeria, others should honour pledges towards UHC

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Senator Lanre Tejuoso, has stated that the 2nd THISDAY Healthcare Policy Dialogue, tagged: ‘The Journey to Universal Health Coverage in Nigeria’ is timely, as the National Assembly has intensified efforts for the implementation of the Basic Healthcare Provisions Fund (BHCPF) for all Nigerians.

The BHCPF is a fund allocation to cater for the basic health needs of all Nigerians, with a minimum of one per cent provision by government as stipulated in the 2014 National Health Act.

Tejuoso said the National Assembly is about concluding the passage of the 2018 national budget, but that if it doesn’t reflect the one per cent of the consolidated revenue fund for health, the country would be sending a wrong signal to development partners.

“If we don’t do this, it means we are not encouraging development partners that have spent more than that over the past years. We cannot surrender our health financing to foreign friends,” he added.

He said the implementation for 2018 would mean a minimum of about N45 billion would be set aside in this year’s national budget for BHCPF.

According to him, this is why the health summit, organised by THISDAY Newspapers is coming at the right time since the passage of the national budget is around the corner, adding that the event would afford policy makers and healthcare stakeholders the opportunity to chat a way forward for universal health coverage for the citizens.

The high level policy dialogue will hold Thursday 12th April at the Congress Hall, Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja by 10am.
The Summit, which is the second in a series of healthcare policy dialogues organised by THISDAY, will be headlined by the Director General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghabreyaesus and the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole headlining it.

The first edition, with the theme: Healthcare Financing, was held Tuesday March 6th 2018 in Abuja, and it recorded a huge success as it drew quality participation and came up with some far reaching conclusions that are currently being discussed at the highest level of government in the country.

This second edition, which draws on the success of the first, is particularly relevant as Nigeria sets into motion its Universal Health Coverage aspirations with the launch of the BHCPF under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
This high level policy dialogue will bring together policy makers, including members of the Federal Executive Council, parliamentarians, development partners, including bi-and multi lateral institutions, entire senior leadership of the WHO, healthcare practitioners, civil society organisations, private sector leaders, media think-tanks, academia, institutions involved in financing and delivering healthcare – banks, HMOs, MFIs & insurance companies, and members of the public.

The WHO DG will be accompanied to the event by the entire senior leadership of the WHO, including the African Regional Director of WHO, Dr. Matshidiso Rebecca Moeti (the first woman to hold such position).
Ghabreyaesus will use the occasion to launch the logo and beneficiary identification card for the Basic Health Care Provision Fund of the National Health Act.

He will also be hosted at a high-level experience sharing event by the Nigerian government as the country has set in motion its universal health coverage aspirations with the launching of the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund of the National Health Act under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhariof Health.

Other speakers at the THISDAY Summit include Country Director, World Bank Nigeria, Rachid Benmassoud, CEO Dangote Foundation, Rachid Benmassoud, Minister of State for Health, Osagie Ehanire, Representative of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Paulin Basinga, Representative of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Mohammed Malick Fall, Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, Representative of United Nations Populations Fund, (UNFPA), Diene Kieta, and Senior Rep & Mission Chief, International Monetary Fund (IMF), Amine Mati.

According to a statement to announce the policy dialogue, THISDAY Board of Directors said the theme was carefully chosen because Nigerians were in dire need of Universal Health Coverage.

“Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is about ensuring that people have access to the healthcare they need without suffering financial hardship. It also helps drive better health and development outcomes. The best investment for a safer, fairer and healthier Nigeria is one where the attainment of UHC is made a moral imperative,” the Board noted.

Federal Ministry of Health has earlier noted that Nigeria is fully committed to the ideals espoused by the principles of universal health coverage, adding that a National Health Act signed into law in 2014 guarantees a Basic Minimum Package of Health Services for all Nigerians and also assures additional financing for the sector through the implementation of the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund.
Nigeria had earlier hosted a Presidential Summit in March 2014 which ended with a Declaration on Universal Health Coverage in Nigeria.
Co-organisers of the Summit are the Federal Ministry of Health, World Bank, World Health Organisation (WHO), UNICEF, UNFPA, and the United States Agency for International Development/HFG

In a related development, the World Health Organisation Regional Director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, has called on the Nigerian government and other African countries to honour their commitment towards achieving a Universal Health Coverage for all citizens by 2030.

Speaking in Abuja to mark the World Health Day 2018, weekend, with the theme: ‘UHC-Everyone, Everywhere’, she said the pledge was made in 2015 by leaders of the region, and that there was need to commit to concrete actions.
Moeti, who was represented by the WHO country representative to Nigeria, Wondi Alemu, said Nigeria and other African countries must strive to improve health governance and information systems to ensure better regulation, planning and accountability to their communities and partners.

She said to achieve the feat, adequate and sustained investment in health is necessary for ensuring equitable access to health services.
“Member States should address the persistent challenge of inadequate health workforce. Ethiopia exemplifies how investment in health workers, and specifically community health workers, contribute to improved delivery of essential health services.

“UHC means ensuring that everyone – no matter where they live or who they are – can access essential quality health services without facing financial hardship. It is a powerful equaliser that ensures Health for All, enhances health security, reduces poverty and promotes gender equality,” she said.